Press Conference Notes: Clark Lea’s team focused on moving forward

After a dreadful loss to ETSU in week one, head coach Clark Lea met with the media to discuss a week two matchup with Colorado State.

After a week one loss to ETSU, the Commodores head on the road for a battle with Colorado State on Saturday. (Vanderbilt Athletics).

After a week one loss to ETSU, the Commodores head on the road for a battle with Colorado State on Saturday. (Vanderbilt Athletics).

Luke Rollfinke

Following Saturday night’s 23-3 loss to East Tennessee State University, head coach Clark Lea took to the media Tuesday to reflect on the defeat and reveal how his team will look to bounce back this week against Colorado State.

“It’s an interesting learning experience for our program. From this standpoint, we played a team that executed really well,” Lea said. “They managed momentum in the game, they never lost competence, and we never put enough pressure to where we were challenging their mindset.”

The news of the day was no doubt Lea’s confirmation that it was quarterbacks coach and pass game coordinator Joey Lynch calling plays this past Saturday, not offensive coordinator David Raih. The offensive results were less than impressive in the defeat—with the Commodores logging just 321 total yards and no touchdowns.

“About a week in the fall camp, we just made the decision looking at the big picture that we were going to lean on Joey Lynch’s experience in that [playcalling] role,” Lea said. “As a play caller, it’s always been a collaborative effort in planning and the design of the plan and certainly coach Raih’s fingerprints are all over that still.”

But the offensive struggles went beyond just play calling. Continual failures to both land big plays and finish off long drives left the Commodores unable to put points on the board. Lea attributed these struggles to self-inflicted mistakes.

“When you look at the offense, in general, the two things that stand out is one, we have to cease self sabotaging drives. That’s pre snap penalties, that’s a blown protection where we get a quarterback hit,” Lea said. “There are details within the execution that are gonna allow for our offense to be more explosive.”

One thing that won’t be changing on the offensive side of the football is the starting quarterback. Lea acknowledged that he will be sticking with sophomore Ken Seals to run the offense against Colorado State. Seals will be without tight end Ben Bresnahan, however, who left last week’s game after taking a hit in the fourth quarter. 

Looking forward to Saturday’s matchup, Lea discussed the potential impact of playing in a high-altitude situation. Colorado State sits 5,000 feet above sea level, and as Lea noted, the thinner and drier air could affect the endurance and energy of the players.

“It’s an element in the game within a game that will require our attention, I think we’re going to handle that on the front end, and limit a little bit of our exposure,” Lea said. “We have time that we’ll spend in a walkthrough setting prior to kickoff, and not wanting to overspend our energy early.”

Saving that energy for late in the game will be crucial if the Commodores are able to bounce back this week. The team was outscored 13-0 in the second half of last week’s game as both the offense and defense sputtered. Lea believes that his team isn’t far from winning their first game, however. 

“I’ve said this before, winning is a skill,” Lea said. “Winning is belief. You have to train to win. And we are in the process of discovering this as a program.”

The Commodores will kickoff their away schedule this Saturday against the Colorado State Rams at 9 p.m. CDT.